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Chapter Graphic made by whocares.  Is anyone else getting tired of seeing that?

Disclaimer:  I don't own any of this.  Everything belongs to JKR, and if you or anyone else ever says otherwise, they must be mentally ill.

Cora made her way as swiftly as possible, keeping her head down to avoid notice. She kept her eyes trained on her abnormally large feet; usually a source of annoyance, but today pushed to the back of her mind in favor of more important matters.

What had she done? More significantly, why had she done it? This was her problem: she spent most of her time wishing she could get up the courage to open her mouth and speak, but when she did speak, she spent the aftermath wishing she had kept her bloody mouth shut tight. What would happen if she lost? Or more accurately, what would happen when she lost? She couldn’t afford twenty galleons! She could barely afford twenty knuts, for heaven’s sake! She had spent all summer raising enough money to take a train to London and buy her school books (her parents didn’t approve of magic). All she had left was three sickles and a knut! How would she explain that to those girls who had never had to work a day in their lives?

Before she could worry any more, she was pulled out of her reverie by an arm that was skillfully locking itself around her elbow. She looked up in surprise to see Macy Doolis, and next to her…

“Gloria!” Cora cried. “What in Merlin’s name did you do to your hair?” Gloria Clemmett’s mid-back length hair had been ironed straight, but that was not what shocked Cora. Gloria had died her hair a shimmering cross between silver and blue, with an enormous royal blue flower (Cora thought it might have once been a daisy) pinned behind her ear.

“Do you like it?” Gloria asked, fingering a lock of the offensive hair between her fingers in what Cora could only assume was a loving manner.

“Of course she doesn’t like it,” Macy snapped. She had a brightly colored scarf braided into her own dark hair.

Cora said nothing; she was concentrating on not tripping over her own unusually big feet as she struggled to keep up with the taller girls. Cora herself was short, true, but Macy and Gloria were both tall for their age – especially Gloria. The blue-haired girl was at least six foot four, absolutely towering over both the girls and boys of Hogwarts. The only person who could possibly compete with her height was Marcus Flint, and he had graduated two years ago.

“We’re taking bets on how long she can keep it before McGonagall gets on her,” Macy continued. “You want in?”

Cora shook her head.

“Naw, Cora’s got bigger fish to fry, don’t you?” Gloria joked.

“Something like that,” Cora murmured.

“What was that?” Macy asked sharply.

But Cora was saved from answering by their arrival at the doors of the Great Hall. “Kevin!” Gloria exclaimed, spotting her boyfriend of two years. “Kevin, over here!”

The blonde’s face lit up as he caught sight of Gloria, and he jumped out of his seat, saying a rushed last few words to Michael Corner as he quickly left the table. It was like a scene straight out of a Muggle soap opera, the two of them running into each other’s open arms like they hadn’t seen each other in years.

“Disgusting, isn’t it?” Macy sniffed as the two began to kiss.

“I guess,” Cora shrugged. She knew Macy was really jealous of Gloria, having had feelings for Kevin ever since first year.

Cora separated herself from the now-scowling Macy and took a seat the Ravenclaw table next to Anthony Goldstein. Half a second later, she was fervently wishing she had sat on the other side of the table; from where she sat, she had an unobstructed view of Draco’s perfect blonde head. There was no way she’d be able to look at anything else all night.

Cora chewed on the inside of her cheek nervously, wondering how she was going to catch his attention. This was going to be much harder than she had anticipated. Actually, she hadn’t anticipated much of anything, very uncharacteristic for her. Her mind examined a wide range of possibilities, each rejected as absurd and hopeless. Really, this whole bet was absurd and hopeless. She could barely summon the courage to talk to her friends; where on earth was she going to find the courage to talk to the boy she couldn’t even talk to in her dreams?

“What are you staring at?” Gloria asked, breaking off Cora’s trance.

From the table next to theirs, she heard Gisele King screech “You like Draco Malfoy!?” A flicker of a smile crossed Cora’s face, knowing that Coni, too, had been caught admiring Draco’s beautiful features.

“Helloooooooo? Anybody home in Cora land?” Macy sang, waving a perfectly manicured hand in front of Cora’s eyes.

“Sorry?” Cora asked, feigning ignorance.

“I asked you what you were staring at,” Gloria repeated. Her hand lay on the table, her beautifully sculpted fingers loosely intertwined with Kevin’s. Cora couldn’t help but wonder if she’d ever hold Draco’s hand that way.

“Did something happen to you over the summer? Is that why you’re acting like you’re lost?” Macy asked.

Cora shook her head.

“You didn’t jump off a bridge or fall off a broom or anything?” Macy continued. “Did you go outside at all?” She eyed Cora’s pale features suspiciously.

“Yes,” Cora replied, a little defensive. Macy arched one of her identically shaped eyebrows in dubiousness.

“Oh, leave her alone,” Gloria instructed. “What are you anyways, the Spanish Inquisition?”

Macy scowled, but left Cora alone to gaze at Draco on the other side of the room.

The evening passed in a blur, and before she knew it, Gloria was telling her it was time to leave. Cora rose clumsily, shadowing Gloria, Kevin and Macy all the way back to the common room, still thinking about Draco.

“So,” Gloria said, once they were in the relative safety of the girls’ dorms. “Why were you staring at Draco Malfoy all through dinner?”

Cora gulped. So she had noticed.

Macy’s eyes grew wide with excitement. “I thought that was what you were staring at!” she exclaimed.

“Who was staring at what?” Padma Patil and Mandy Brocklehurst. Just more troubles to add to her rapidly-expanding list. The girls entered and each of them, Gloria and Macy included, sat down on their respective bed to hear the tale.

“Cora here was just going to tell us why she had her eyes glued to the back of Malfoy’s head during dinner,” Macy explained.

“You like Malfoy?” Mandy interjected, displaying her extraordinary talent for gossip.

“Maybe a little,” Cora admitted, simultaneously blushing and biting her lip.

“Little out of your league, wouldn’t you say?” Macy hinted.

Padma shrugged. “Malfoy’s kind of in a league of his own right now, and not in a good way.”

“What the heck is that supposed to mean?” Macy asked, clearly disgruntled.

“It means he’s desperate,” explained Gloria. “He’d probably go out with any one of us right now if we asked him to.”

“Except for the fact that he only dates pure-bloods.”

Cora mentally cringed. She had completely forgotten about that small detail. She tried to remember if she had ever let it slip around him that she was indeed muggle born. She couldn’t even remember being around him, not to mention speaking in his presence. She could avoid that obstacle if she had to.

“Well, whatever,” Macy grumbled. “I’m going to sleep.”

“Yeah,” Gloria said, supporting Macy’s decision. “We’ve got classes tomorrow, after all.”

“Which reminds me!” cried Mandy. She reached into her trunk and retrieved five identical paperback books. “Oliver Twist,” she said, handing a book to each girl. “First one done gets a first edition copy I found in a book shop in Scotland, compliments of my mother.”

“Well, we know who that’ll be,” Gloria said as they all glanced in Cora’s direction.

Cora blushed and pulled on her fleece night gown. “Good night,” she said firmly, and pulled the bedcovers up over her head. There wasn’t much guessing as to who her dreams would be about tonight. 

A/N: Eh... whatever... chapter written by whocares.... I don't really have anything to say about this except that I love reviews! 


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